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"Word Challenge" to Inspire Creativity in the Design of Social Public Spaces

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Joshua Clements | City Planner

Altoona, Wisconsin. The City of Altoona is pleased to announce a Word Challenge to invite people to propose a new word intended to serve as the English translation of the Danish hygge. The City is currently undertaking a City-wide public space planning process, and exploring creative ways to engage people in park design and use. In addition, as the construction of River Prairie Park nears completion, the City is focused on communicating and sharing its transitioning from public space design to outreach and engagement.

The Word Challenge will be officially launched at the ribbon cutting of the Prairie Event Center at 5:00pm August 22, 2017, 1445 Front Porch Place in River Prairie. Submissions are due September 25th. A panel will select finalists, and the winner will be determined by an online public voting process.  The winning submission will be announced on October 25th.  Authors can be from anywhere in the world. Word submissions are accepted by email as well as online form: https://goo.gl/forms/8bizvKzPIhcEiJNp2

Among the inspirations for the placemaking approach of River Prairie is the Danish word and concept hygge (hue-guh or hoo-gah), a word without English translation, which approximates as "feeling or quality of coziness, comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing." There are similar words drawn from Northern European languages, including Norwegian and German, equally without direct translation.

"In order to be more inclusive, rather than select a single Northern European word, we've decided seize this opportunity to create this challenge to engage the public in a creative enterprise. In the process, we aim to elevate the dialogue around the design of attractive, high-performing, and well-loved public spaces" says Joshua Clements, Altoona City Planner. The European settlers of this area came from several European Counties. However, we're becoming a more diverse population that values inclusion, and selecting a single European word doesn't feel quite right. We would risk leaving out all the rest, and we don't have an English word that nicely describes this feeling or concept. Our regional culture is naturally convivial and authentic, and local businesses and places are increasingly defining our unique niche."

This new word will be utilized by the City of Altoona for outreach and engagement efforts. "We've utilized placemaking concepts and terminology in the design of River Prairie for many years" shares Mike Golat, Altoona City Administrator. "Hygge is one of the concepts we've used internally to describe how a space should feel. It's sitting by a campfire, making smores with your friends and family, with your favorite beverage and music. It's that space you meet your friends that makes you feel cheerful, festive, and social."

As the City has begun to promote River Prairie Park, a 23-acre space with a diverse array of features, including a natural playground, canoe launch, pavilions, playing fields, 3-mile bicycle trail loop, water features, tree house, public art and performance amphitheater. The park is located along the picturesque Eau Claire River. "We designed this park as our front porch, a place where all people can gather in small groups or come together in events and celebrations." shares Golat.  River Prairie Park will be unveiled in a public event on September 30th, 2017.

"Our vision is that this new word will become recognized and associated with its intended meaning- reinforcing a culture of public space that is convivial, cozy and promotes positive sociability" adds Clements. "As we expand our

The Chippewa Valley has many great public spaces, and we're adding our own flavor.

About the City of Altoona

The City of Altoona, population 7,345, is located in the beautiful Chippewa Valley in Western Wisconsin, and is the 4th fastest growing City in the State.  The City is focused on providing excellent quality of life, and elevating the quality and access of public space is key to this mission. 

KEY DATES

August 22: Submission platform is live >>
August 22:
Public announcement of Word Challenge at the River Prairie Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
September 25: Submission deadline
September 30: Finalists announced at Party at the Prairie event in River Prairie
September 30 - October 16: Public voting is open
October 25: Winning entry announced
October 26: Mayoral Proclamation at City Council meeting

KEY LINKS

Word Challenge on-line submission >>
Word Challenge Request for Proposals >>